No need to look it up. It’s what you’re feeling right now. The unreasonable fear of clowns.
Maybe it’s not so unreasonable.
Look below and you’ll lay eyes on the first look at Pennywise the Dancing Clown from next year’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s It, with Bill Skarsgård taking on the role of the most fearsome creature to ever clutch a bouquet of balloons.
“It’s such an extreme character. Inhumane,” Skarsgård says. “It’s beyond even a sociopath, because he’s not even human. He’s not even a clown. I’m playing just one of the beings It creates.”
Anyone who’s turned the pages of King’s epic coming-of-age horror thriller knows this bloodthirsty funster isn’t your average psycho in grease paint. Pennywise is the favorite embodiment of a nameless, shapeless evil that dwells beneath a small town and feeds on the fear – and sometimes limbs – of children.
This manifestation of Pennywise from director Andrés Muschietti’s film (out Sept. 8, 2017) is elegant, precise — even alluring. He’s in control. It’s a stark contrast to the messy, smeared, and dirty scary-clown trend pioneered eight years ago by Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight.
“It’s important that we do something fresh and original for this one. It’s purposely not going toward that weird, greasy look,” says Skarsgård, best known for Allegiant and the Netflix series Hemlock Grove.
The key to this monster? Having fun with it. “It truly enjoys the shape of the clown Pennywise, and enjoys the game and the hunt,” the actor says. “What’s funny to this evil entity might not be funny to everyone else. But he thinks it’s funny.”
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Stephen King’s It starts filming with director Andy Muschietti
At long last, It is finally happening. Director Andy Muschietti (Mama) announced the kick off of production on the Stephen King adaptation over Instagram, making good on New Line’s plan that’s been long in the works.
Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation) was originally set to helm the two-part story. He eventually departed over creative differences, and with him went Will Poulter (We’re the Millers), who was initially cast as the titular demonic clown. Muschietti was courted for his replacement shortly after, and he and New Line have wrangled together a new cast.
Bill Skarsgard (Netflix’s Hemlock Grove) succeeds Tim Curry as Pennywise, a demon posing as a child-killing clown who torments a group of kids called “The Loser’s Club.” The cast also includes Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, and Jeremy Ray Taylor.
See the first photo from the set from Muschietti’s Instagram.
Producer Roy Lee said back in February that the film “is very close to the source material in one way but very different if you look at it as a literary piece of work. We’re taking it and making the movie from the point of view of the kids, and then making another movie from the point of view of the adults, that could potentially then be cut together like the novel. But it’s gonna be a really fun way of making this movie.”
Part one is scheduled for release on Sept. 8, 2017.
Bill Skarsgard Is Murderous Clown In Stephen King’s ‘It’
Up-and-coming actor Bill Skarsgard will play the lead role in It, New Line Cinema’s Andy Muschietti-directed adaptation of the Stephen King bestseller about neighborhood pals who are haunted by the murderous clown Pennywise. Barbara Muschietti, Roy Lee and Dan Lin are producing along with David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith.
It’s a step up for Skarsgard, who has been knocking on the door in series like Hemlock Grove and the Divergent sequels. He’s the son of actor Stellan Skarsgard.
Why Bill Skarsgard Didn’t Want People to Know He Was from a Famous Family
With a unique and recognizable last name like Skarsgard, it’s difficult for up-and-coming Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard to avoid instant comparisons to his famous family members.
Skarsgard, 25, is son to Stellan (Thor) and brother to actors Alexander and Gustaf (TV’s Vikings) but he wasn’t exactly dying to join the family business.
“I wanted to be an actor ever since I was a little kid,” he tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s new issue, on newsstands now. “But as I got into my teenage years I thought, is it really me wanting this or because I want to follow in my dad’s footsteps?”
Skarsgard studied science in high school before deciding he couldn’t deny his own passion for acting any longer and that he wanted to pave his own way.
“I’ve always felt a very strong need to do it myself,” he says. “The association with my brothers and my father is already so big, I didn’t want them to have anything to do with what I did. I needed them to feel that I am completely responsible for what I do.”
After breaking out on his own in Sweden, Skarsgard booked a small role on the Netflix series Hemlock Grove and has a supporting role in the upcoming film The Divergent Series: Allegiant as mysterious new character Matthew.
For more from Skarsgard, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now
“Now that I’m a little bit more established and secure in myself as an actor, I do communicate with them,” Skarsgard says of leaning on his family for career advice. “We can have an open dialogue about situations at work and it’s immensely helpful having them there.”
Bonus Skarsgard fact: their family name is wholly original and relatively new.
“We’re the only ones with our last name,” says Skarsgard. “My grandfather and his brothers came up with it, so we’re the only ones who are named Skarsgard, our family and our cousins and stuff like that. A lot of people think that Skarsgard happens to be a common last name, but it’s just us.”
The Divergent Series: Allegiant arrives in theaters March 18.